To Write Porn or Not to Write Porn?

I aspire to write pornography. I don’t write it just because it’s fun (it is!) or because it’s easy (it’s not). I write it because I want to write it.

Why?

To have an audience.

When I write “mainstream” fiction, nobody wants to read it. Not even my family. When I write “porn” and put it on a site like BDSMLibrary.com, it is downloaded 5,000 times in the first week, 10,000 times in the first month, 25,000 times in a year.

I bundled four related stories into an ebook (A Lady Pays her Penalties) and self-published it on Smashwords.com. Within three weeks, it climbed into the top 200 most downloaded long (more than 25,000 words) publications. That’s out of a field of almost 8,000 works. Currently it has been available on Smashwords for about six weeks and is in 120th place with well over 1000 downloads. It’s an epub bullet!

I could never get those numbers with self-published mainstream fiction.

So why do I want an audience – even to the extent that I’m happy to distribute my work for free and forgo a potential few thousand dollars a year in royalties?

Fame is nice. It’s comforting to know that a few thousand people somewhere in the world have read your work and may remember your name.

Feedback is more important. I want to write better. There’s no ceiling on good writing. No matter how well I write, I know that I could do better somehow. I have to have a large audience to get feedback because only one out of a thousand of my readers writes a comment or sends fan mail. When people write and tell me what they liked, what they didn’t like, how my words affected them or failed to affect them, then I get clues about how to do better next time. When one reader sends me an email saying that my story made her cry in a good way or another talks about walking out of the cybercafe trying to conceal the tent in his pants, I know that I’ve done something right. When a number of other readers agree that my male characters are two-dimensional and too wimpy, I know that I need to devote more effort there.

I also put “payloads” into some of my stories. Messages can be embedded in the porn, from prescriptions for saving failing marriages to urging Microsoft to develop virus-resistant computers to promoting a skeptical view of religion. I don’t have to be a Ghandi or a Mandela. Even if only a few people find their lives improved by just a barely noticeable amount, then I can be happy that my time on earth has not been totally wasted.

But, most important of all, the audience keeps me writing. I’ve written well over a million words of fiction in the last ten years. Only a third of that is porn. Two thirds is mainstream fiction. But not a single person has read my mainstream writing. If I didn’t have my porn readers encouraging me to write more, I would have given up writing years ago.

Given that I want to write porn, it’s surprising how difficult that can be. The problem is not to write something – I can always write something – but to write something that is both new and erotic. It is surprising how often an interesting idea does not have a sufficient erotic flavor.

A case in point is my latest submission to BDSMLibrary.com. The Baby Machine is a story about a young woman who decides to devote her life to having as many babies as possible, each by a different man. It’s got sex. I describe in some detail how she tries to seduce three virgin high school students in one night. It’s got kink. She has her gay husband supply her with large numbers of anonymous men to have sex with her while she’s blindfolded. It’s got bondage. When she fears that she will not be able to force herself to continue to have sex, she chains herself to her bed. But is it erotic enough? I don’t know, but I fear not. It’s a full novella, almost 40,000 words, but only a few thousand of those words describe sexual activities. The rest describe her self-created situation, how it evolves to become more practical, and how it leads to surprising success in both business and academia. I attempt to provide an in-depth study of a strong character because character development has consistently been one of the weak points in my previous writing. But there’s not a lot of whack-off material in this one.

So here I am, waiting for the story to appear, fearing that my readers will tell me that, once again, despite all my best efforts, I have failed to write pornography.

Do other pornographers face the same dilemma?

Yours, Ashley

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About Ashley Zacharias

I'm a post-modern woman who lives a vanilla life and dreams about kinky adventure. I write BDSM pornography but have no interest in acting out my fantasies in real life. Find my work on SmashWords.com and Amazon.com
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One Response to To Write Porn or Not to Write Porn?

  1. Curtis says:

    “So here I am, waiting for the story to appear, fearing that my readers will tell me that, once again, despite all my best efforts, I have failed to write pornography.

    Do other pornographers face the same dilemma?”

    My guess would be not many.

    People post stories for all kinds of reasons*, and probably most of those posters are concerned about how their stories will be received, which is to say whether they failed AT writing pornography, but I would be surprised if many gave much thought to whether they had failed TO write pornography.

    * = To name a few: A Canadian newswriter decided that writing stories for broadcast wasn’t helping him to become a better writer of fiction, so he took up porn writing because he thought it was a no-fail (or low probability of failure) way to rapidly get in his ten thousand hours; some people have favorite jerkoff fantasies that they just can’t resist sharing with the world; a girlfriend asked me to write a story about her, and when it was finished I thought it was better than most of what I saw posted, so why not give it a shot?; some people post stories (originally for whatever reason), then discover that they have a loyal audience, so they continue posting because either they’re flattered or they feel an obligation to their readers.

    The first guy I mentioned never read his reviews, though he did respond to e-mails. His attitude was that he was writing to improve his technique, and there was nobody at the Library who could tell him anything useful. Why bother to post, then; why not just type and dump? We were the recipients of his largesse. He posted for our benefit, not his.

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